Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Controlling Names of Backup Files.

Controlling Names of Backup Files

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated March 13, 2023)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


If you choose the option to "always create backup copy" (Word Options dialog box | Advanced | Save area) Word names the resulting backup file like this: "Backup of Accounting Policies.wbk", where the original file was called "Accounting Policies.docx". You may wonder if there is a way to place backups in a different folder, use a different filename extension, or avoid pre-pending the "Backup of" wording at the beginning of the filename.

Some of these things can be changed in Word; others cannot. If you want to change the filename extension for backups, you can theoretically make changes in the Windows Registry. This was easy to do in the menu-based versions of Word (pre-Word 2007), but exactly how it is done in the ribbon-based versions of Word is not as clear.

You cannot change the pre-pending of the "Backup of" wording, and you cannot change the location of the backup files (they are placed in the same directory as the file being backed up). As has been detailed in other issues of WordTips, you can work around both of these issues by simply creating a macro that always saves a second copy of your document every time you save.

Sub FileSave()
    Dim docName As Boolean
    Dim templateFullName As String

    docName = ActiveDocument.name Like "Document#*"
    templateFullName = ActiveDocument.FullName
    If docName = True Then
        Dialogs(wdDialogFileSaveAs).Show
    Else
        ActiveDocument.SaveAs FileName:="C:\Backups\" _
          & ActiveDocument.name, AddToRecentFiles:=False
        ActiveDocument.SaveAs FileName:=templateFullName
    End If
End Sub

This macro is meant to be a replacement for the Save command. It saves a copy of the document in the C:\backups\ folder, as well as saving in the current location. The file name for the backup is the same as the original; it does not use the .wbk filename extension.

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the WordTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (11760) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Controlling Names of Backup Files.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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